What is RFID? What is NFC? And why is it relevant to the live-events industry especially?

Let’s explore a little about these expanding technologies!



RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and their subset, NFC tags, are mini computer chip / antenna assemblies used for wireless identification and tracking. Currently, many smartphone brands can read NFC tags, and the numbers are growing.

But what does that mean?

Well, like a barcode, RFID tags transmit their unique IDs when read. Unlike barcodes, they’re much harder to duplicate and can actually be coded to communicate MORE than just a unique ID. They could hold the contents of your business card, for example, or direct a smart phone to visit a certain URL/webpage.

Additionally, they don’t have to be scanned using a line-of-site laser. Instead, a reader needs only be within a certain vicinity to read the tag, which means the tags can be hidden under certain material types or, for certain types of tags, scanned from much longer distances, passively.

Wal-Mart has been using long-range RFID tags for years to maintain inventory. A simple wave of the RFID-reader wand allows Wal-Mart inventory systems to quickly and easily assess which (and how much) inventory is on a palette or shelf.

Marathons use long-range RFID tags on runner bibs to track the start and finish times of each runner and display those times as soon as the race is finished.

So what’s NFC then?



NFC (Near Field Communication) tags are more specialized type of RFID tag. They’re the ones being used in many types of smart phones. The tag itself must be read from a very short range (less than an inch, usually) which means an individual must actively “tap” their tag to a phone (or their phone to a tag) to trigger a data transfer.

NFC-capable smart phones can act as both tag AND reader, allowing the phones to not only read NFC tags but read other phones as if they were tags. The NFC tag is built to allow higher levels of security and authorization, meaning that NFC is the ID of choice for cashless payment systems and data transfer.

Some companies are placing NFC tags in physical advertisements, with messaging directing passers-by to tap their NFC-capable phones on a poster (for example) and have their phone automatically take them to a special website. The consumer can then be rewarded with any number of things: exclusive media downloads (I once downloaded an e-book in an airport from a Samsung poster), discounts on product, or information about the event of the day.



At ACCESS® we are bridging the gap between tech-enabled credentials and digital event solutions.

What does this mean? We can manufacture RFID and NFC tags within our event credentials, allowing the passes to act as integral hubs to our Access Event Technology Platform, a live-event technology solution.

By giving attendees of a VIP gala, concert, sporting event, corporate conference, etc an individual tech-enabled credential (NFC/RFID event pass) we can create customized management systems for various types of events, delivering wireless access control, social media integration, attendee tracking, live-event management tools, and more, all to accomplish two main things:

Help you manage your events better.

Enhance the experience of your attendees.



All of the sudden your attendee badges are “turned on,” allowing all stakeholders to have an enhanced experience.

  • Attendees get a badge that can enable them to collect information from sponsors, redeem drink/meal/swag vouchers, vote on aspects of the event, and connect with the event or sponsors post event to take advantage of promotions.
  • Event coordinators are able to sell enhanced sponsorship offerings, increase efficiency of their operations and create a better experience for their attendees.
  • Sponsors receive valuable data about the attendees, are able to provide much more interactive activations, and can re-market to interested consumers.

Events have become hubs of data and compete to create the most interesting, memorable attendee/sponsor experiences.

We can’t wait to be part of the evolution of live events!